24 Apr First Impressions: Japan
I’ve been wanting to visit Japan since I was in middle school. So when we got off the plane in Osaka, I was stoked. Absolutely stoked. Michelle looked at me and said it best, “Jedd, you’re in your motherland.”
Growing up in Hawaii, I felt I knew a lot about Japan before I got here. I’m half-Japanese, which meant knowing some things about Japanese culture, watching Japanese shows with my family, eating Japanese food, and taking Japanese language classes until I graduated from high school. But I’m American, not Japanese, and even though I am categorized as an Asian-American I feel very out of touch with my Asian roots. I’m a terrible Asian.
I heard stories about Japan as if it was the mother land. The place where we knew my Mother’s family came from. Like them, I felt an undefinable connection to it, a longing to know where we came from. Now that I’ve been here, I realize there’s so much to Japan that I did’t know or understand.
What I do know are my first impressions of Japan as a magical, epic clash of extremes and contradictions.
This is a place where peace and chaos can coexist. Where organization and respect for others is the norm amidst a dense sea of people rushing to get anywhere. A country so old, so rich in history, art, and tradition and yet, so modern and technologically advanced that their toilets have buttons and options for purposes other than to flush. Maybe that’s why I do feel home. Not because of the toilets, but because of the contradictions and uniqueness that remind me that things don’t always have to make sense. Maybe things just are the way they are and don’t have to be explained. This reminds me of me.
It’s a fascinating country to visit and experience. It’s nice to know that you can still honor tradition while embracing change. That a 400+ year old castle can sit perfectly in the middle of a bustling urban city. The nation that built that castle is the same one that built the most amazing, modern train infrastructure in the world. It’s not a perfect country by any means, but it’s a country that reminds me that there is something special about the coexistence of contradicting extremes. A country I hope to spend many years learning about.
A country that feels like home.
Here are some other things we’ve noticed over the past week (click on any of the images below to make it larger):
Modern and efficient
From tiny rooms to the bright arcades, ordering from a tablet, to selling just about anything from a vending machine, Japan is a leader in technology and efficiency.
The food is amazing
French food tasted better in France. Japanese food tastes better in Japan. I knew the sushi would be good, but I didn’t realize how great and affordable it would be. My favorite discovery so far is the Curry Oyster Bread. The saddest discovery is seeing how much of the food is unnecessarily wrapped or packaged. There’s a ton of packaging.
The historic art and details in the country are beautiful
The scale and detail of the art in Japan is unbelievable. So many things were crafted with such care and thoughtfulness. You can see and feel the pride in all of these works. Even the manhole covers have incredible detail.
Have you been to Japan? Do you have any thoughts or insights about this country? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Get our best tips and resources for transformational travel
Subscribe now to get our free Checklist for International Travel, plus other exclusive content about how to travel more, save money, and enjoy transformational experiences around the world.